Day 12 – En route to Banff National Park

Mitch and I did what I perceived daft for two young English gents – hire a car, driving on the other side of the road, for approximately ten hours each way.

We asked for a Pontiac but received a VW Jetta. Not so bad, as I drive a VW at home so familiarity was a bonus for a car which has the steering wheel on the left.

My biggest concern was driving this automatic car out of the multi-storey car park, or parking lot, without driving it through a wall. After a few minutes of bricking it, we drove off and started on our way. We got out of Vancouver with relative ease, surprisingly.

The drive was easy and pleasurable. We drove past mountains, through the Okanagan desert. About half way we swapped over and Mitch continued the journey, stopping in Kamloops where it was boiling hot. After eating our sweaty sandwiches and cotton candy ice cream, we continued on to the BC-Alberta border. I took over in Golden, where we stopped for a McDonald’s, next to a big bridge passing a beautiful river.

The mountains got bigger, snow-capped in summer. The Trans-Canada highway is a true engineering feat, as it cuts through mountains, hangs off cliffs and sits closely to the Canada-Pacific railway, with trains hauling dozens of grain carts.

We got to the hostel, where we met a guy called Long. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying but he seemed a nice enough chap.

This experience was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Driving for hours may not seem like much, but when you’re from a small country, driving hours down a highway through beautiful scenery and sharing some amazing moments with a good friend is hard to beat.

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